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China to strengthen ties with Uganda

By Li Xiaokun and Zhao Yanrong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-04 07:57

 China to strengthen ties with Uganda

Premier Li Keqiang meets with Uganda's Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi on Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Mbabazi, also secretary-general of Uganda's ruling National Resistance Movement, is leading an NRM delegation during his China visit. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Beijing will urge intl community to pay more attention to Africa, Li says

China will urge the international community to increase the attention it pays to Africa and its input in the continent, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.

Li made the remarks while meeting visiting Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi in Beijing. Mbabazi, also secretary-general of Uganda's ruling National Resistance Movement, is leading an NRM delegation on his China visit.

Li said, "China will, as always, support African nations to beef up their capabilities of self-development and will push the international community to pay more attention to Africa and increase its input there", according to a news release issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Ties with Africa serve as a key foundation of Beijing's foreign policy and "a long-term and steadfast strategic choice", Li said.

Africa was part of President Xi Jinping's first overseas visit in late March after taking office.

Xi pledged in his first speech elaborating the country's African policies that China would intensify its efforts to extend relations with Africa as the ties take on greater importance amid a "shared destiny".

"Let me assure you that China will intensify, not weaken, its efforts to expand relations with Africa," Xi said. "This will never change, not even when China grows stronger and enjoys a higher international status." During that trip, Xi also met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Calling Museveni a witness to China-Africa friendship and a trustworthy old friend of China, Xi also said China attaches importance to the cooperation projects Uganda is interested in and stands ready to strengthen economic and trade cooperation on reciprocal basis.

Li told his Ugandan counterpart on Wednesday that China is willing to deepen cooperation with the African nation in various sectors including infrastructure construction, energy projects and agriculture.

Tremendous benefits

Mbabazi said his country expects to deepen partnership with China and looks to greater achievements in the development of ties. Vice-President Li Yuanchao also met Mbabazi on Tuesday.

Uganda has seen tremendous benefits from its relationship with China in recent years, according to a report published in January by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation.

The report said China waived Uganda's $17 million debt accrued from loan interest before 2005, and agreed to provide a financial grant of $6.8 million. China also granted tariff-free and quota-free treatment to more than 400 Uganda commodities.

According to figures from the Uganda Investment Authority, the total planned investment from China in Uganda in 2012 was $86.4 million, making China the fourth-largest international investor in the country.

Trade volume was $538 million in 2012, a surge of 34.7 percent from the previous year, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"China has scaled up aid to Africa over the last 10 years, making it a formidable force on the continent. China's assistance - based on friendship, mutual respect and South-South cooperation - is fast, easy and effective," the Jamestown Foundation report said. China is the world's largest developing economy, while most African countries, such as Uganda, are facing the challenges that China has already experienced, said Zhao Yali, China's ambassador to Uganda. "Therefore, China understands those countries and can meet their requirements better," he said.

About 80 percent of young people in Uganda cannot find jobs, making unemployment a major challenge for the country's development, Zhao added.

According to official figures, Chinese enterprises in Uganda provided 28,000 jobs to local people from 1993 to 2011. "More Ugandan students are studying Mandarin. As long as they understand the language, it is easier for them to find a job at Chinese companies," Zhao said.

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(China Daily 07/04/2013 page11)

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